In all four categories the percentage of county students passing the assessments exceeds the state by at least 4.4 points, and the gains in elementary reading and math and middle school math were greater than the gains statewide. Both the state and county saw slight dips in middle school reading.
“These results are clear evidence of our continued progress as a school system, but also indicative of the work that we have in front of us in order to help every single child in our school system achieve his or her full potential,” Superintendent Kevin Maxwell said. “I am very proud of the progress we continue to make, and confident about our ability to do the work that lies ahead.”
The largest gain among county student groups at any level came in middle school math, where passing scores of students receiving special education services rose 11.2 points. Special education students also posted increases in passing scores of 4.5 and 4.0 points, respectively, in elementary reading and math.
“The increases we have seen in special education are a credit to teachers across our county, who firmly believe that a student's disability does not mean a lack of competency or an inability to pursue the highest of dreams with college and career readiness,” AACPS Director of Special Education Mary Tillar said. “Our successes have come through an understanding of the impact of a child’s disability, a firm belief in that child’s potential, and implementation of differentiated instruction to meet that child’s needs.”
In addition to the countywide scores, county students in all seven racial and ethnic groups posted increases on the middle school math assessment, led by 8-point increases for American Indian and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander students. Scores for students identified as being of two or more races rose 4.2 points, scores of African-American students rose 4.1 points, and scores of Hispanic students rose 3.7 points.
The scores also show a narrowing of the achievement gaps in math for African-American, Hispanic, Special Education, and FARMS students in both elementary and middle school, but a slight expansion of the gaps for African-American, Hispanic and FARMS students in elementary and middle school reading.
New accountability measures
The data released by MSDE is the first since Maryland was granted flexibility with respect to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Prior to this year, a school’s progress toward NCLB goals was measured by Adequate Yearly Progress. As part of Maryland’s new plan, schools will now be measured against their own targets and their work toward increasing achievement in all 10 student groups: seven racial and ethnic groups as well as students receiving free and reduced-price meals (FARMS), special education services, and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) services.
Previously, Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) to determine a school’s progress were created on a statewide basis by school level and content. Moving forward, each school will have its own AMOs for each student group and content area. The most current data was used to judge progress compared to last year’s data and to establish baselines for schools across Maryland and yearly targets for each school to cut in half the percentage of students not scoring proficient by 2017. Of the more than 2,300 categories in which AACPS schools were measured, there were just 50 instances – less than 3 percent – of a school not meeting an AMO. Overall, 77 of the county’s 99 elementary and middle schools whose progress is measured by MSAs met AMOs in every category in both reading and math.
More information about countywide performance can be found at the links below. Additional information about school-specific performance can be found at www.mdreportcard.org.